Ending the Violence

June 16, 2016

Every time there’s a mass shooting, our government leaders renew the debate over gun control… ignoring the fact that in most cases, additional control of the legal sale of firearms would not have changed the outcome one iota.

The Sandy Hook killings were done using the weapons of a family member. The guns were purchased legally. The Orlando murders were committed by a person who should not have been allowed to buy guns, but was. The existing gun laws were not to blame – the FBI’s process was.

If the government can place a person on the “No Fly List” without due process, they should have been able to do the same when it came to buying guns. If nothing else, there should have been a ‘flag’ to let the FBI know the man had purchased weapons. Had a simple system like that been in place, they could have increased their surveillance and, hopefully, stopped him before he killed even one person.

The debate will go on while the more serious issues continue to be ignored.

Why is there a murder every two hours in the city of Chicago? Why do our government officials ignore that fact. Do those thousands of lives lost every year count less that the 49 killed in one night in Orlando? For that matter, was anyone else murdered in Orlando that night? Did that person’s life not mean anything because he or she died alone?

The way I see it, murder is the result of a number of factors. The simplest one is rage – in all too many cases, rage directed at a family member or a close friend.

Then we have the ‘gang’ related; in many cases caused by ‘turf wars’ in the dealing of illegal drugs. These are the cases where one, two, or three people are killed at a time.

My solution for the gang related mayhem is to legalize drugs. Let government sanctioned outlets sell them so that the purity of the product can be more closely controlled and the tax revenues can be used to treat the addicts. Taking the drug dealers off the streets and out of the prison system will save lots of money and lives.

As for family members killing each other, take away the guns and they’ll use knives or baseball bats. It has happened where a couple closing in on divorce settled the issue when one or the other was accidentally pushed off a cliff or assisted in drowning. In other words, rage is difficult to prevent, although if the rage is a result of mental illness, there is hope.

My first job after college was at a mental hospital for children. It was part of a network in Western Pennsylvania. Within a twenty-five mile radius, there were at least two asylums for adults to go along with the one I worked at. Many of our ‘inmates’ graduated to the adult facilities.

And then came along two factors that totally changed everything. One was President Reagan and his cut-backs. Federal funding for mental institutions dried up at the same time the A.C.L.U. convinced a judge that mentally incompetent people should not be held against their will. Brilliant! Very few crazy people readily admit they need help. One of the biggest problems with mentally ill patients is to have them continue to take the medication to control their behavior.

Thus, we have people who were once safely cared for in mental hospitals (and forget the Hollywood nonsense that says those hospitals were all horror stories) now walking the streets forgetting to take their medicine. Since our government sees no danger, they are permitted to buy fire arms and, when the voice in their heads tell them to go into a movie theater and shoot those enemies of Bat Man, we have another mass murder that could have been prevented. How many times did a psychiatrist think there might be such a possibility, but said nothing due to another Federal law called HIPAA.

So, there are my solutions to two of the root causes of murder; legalize drugs, and get mentally ill people the treatment and care they so desperately need.

And that brings us to the biggest problem we face today – terrorism. We have huge segments of the world population who hate us… thanks to the propaganda distributed by many of the people we (our government) consider to be our friends. These same people, in many cases, are the ones we give millions, if not billions of dollars in foreign aid every year.

We do everything we can in this country to encourage freedom of religion, but some religions use that freedom against us.

In fairness, Christian ministers encouraged people to join the crusades a thousand or so years ago. So, I can’t blame religious leaders in the Middle East for returning the favor (they carry grudges for thousands of years in that part of the world.) What gripes me is the leaders in churches in the U.S. encouraging young folks to either go to the Middle East to help the effort there, or simply buy guns and bomb making materials and do as much damage as possible here at home.

Sadly, there is no easy solution for this problem… any more than there was an easy solution for dealing with Hitler and the Nazis. The free world must come together to stop the terrorist groups. We need to be a part of that effort.

There is a very old adage that says “Those who ignore the past are destined to repeat it.” Our current leaders decided that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were over and our troops needed to be brought home. Those leaders ignored the fact that we still have troops in Germany and Japan. Lasting peace doesn’t happen overnight. It took decades for the peoples of Germany and Japan to realize we were there only to keep the peace – nothing more, nothing less. Any remnants of the groups that did not like losing World War II eventually were won over to the improvements brought about through peace.

We cannot force any nation to become a democratic republic such as ours, but we can help them peacefully establish governments that work for them.




Sunday, August 24,2008

August 24, 2008

Three days into my sixty-fifth year on Earth and I find myself wondering if I’ll live long enough to see some things that, as a child, I assumed would be everyday occurrences.

For instance, I used to think that every election day I would proudly walk into the voting booth and cast my ballot for my favorite candidate. That has yet to happen. Instead, I cast my vote against the person I deem to be the worst of the choices. In other words, I’m voting for the lesser of two evils. One would think that with a population as large as ours, at least one political party could endorse a person who was something other than an egotistical maniac who wouldn’t be able to run a corner grocery store.

I used to believe that anybody could grow up to be President. Now, I believe anyone who wants the job must be willing to sell his or her soul to the people who hold the purse strings. Further, I believe anybody who had the ability to really do a good job as leader of the free world is too intelligent to take the job. He or she can make a lot more money in the private sector and have a lot fewer headaches to show for it.

Next, I always believed that the people who served as church leaders were good people who went out of their way to act kindly to everyone they met.

When I studied history in high school and learned about the Crusades, the Inquisition, and Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’ against Jews, I came to realize that many evil men use God and the church as facades to corrupt and influence the actions of their followers.

Unfortunately, such manipulation continues to this day. When radical leaders of any religion use their position to instill hatred against others, it tears my old belief system to shreds. How can someone who claims to be acting on behalf of God perform such despicable acts?

Sadly, such acts often occur on a smaller scale in local churches. Church leaders who have personality conflicts with other members of the church sometimes do very distasteful things to see that their adversary is pushed out.

I’ve been avoiding terms such as Christian and unchristian because such activity is not confined to any one religion. In fact, similar acts are seen on a daily basis in most offices. People who frown on such activity call it “Politics”. That’s an interesting comparison. Dirty politics would be more descriptive.

One of the first things I was taught as a child was to live by the Golden Rule. I don’t think “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is from the Bible or any other religious text, but it certainly is a great motto.

Of course, it didn’t take many years for me to learn that some people take a different approach. Even then, I wanted to believe that the people who lie, cheat, and steal were a very small minority of the population. Once again, growing older is teaching me the opposite. I hate to think that the evil people in this world may outnumber the honest folks, but the things I see and hear every day cause me to wonder.

Maybe I can blame a lot of my thoughts on the news media. If we’re lucky, the local news teams might devote a minute or two to a heart warming story. The remainder of the newscasts are telling us about the murders, rapes, and robberies.

For my own sanity, I’m going to assume that people have come to reflect the nightly news; they’re not going to waste our time telling us about the good things that have happened. They’re just going to report the lurid details of the latest conflicts they’ve encountered.

With that in mind, I’m going to assume that the news we don’t hear – the good news – is so widespread that no one sees the need to tell us about it. Therefore, as I believed in my childhood innocence, it truly is a wonderful world. I know Louis Armstrong agreed with that assessment. If it was good enough for him, it’s good enough for me!